Thursday, July 08, 2004

NYT review of the new MSN Search

The NYT State of the Art column has a lukewarm review of MSN Search's UI redesign and their new search engine. Some interesting snippets, starting with the MSN Search redesign:
    MSN [Search] still relies on search technology licensed from Yahoo. For many searches, the results are pretty much the same at Google. But do enough searches, spend enough months, and Google gradually re-earns its reputation for superior accuracy. The new MSN Search looks like Google but doesn't work like Google.
On paid placement:
    Unfortunately, Microsoft calls the separation of advertising an experiment, not a permanent change in policy. It seems to be trying on honesty in the mirror to see if people will find it attractive, rather than realizing that running a principled business is the way to win customers' trust. In short, "MSN will continue to evaluate the potential of paid inclusion to improve relevancy."
And, finally, a harsh review of Microsoft's early attempt to build a new search engine:
    You can try out Microsoft's extremely early version of this new search algorithm at, but don't get your hopes up. First, the tech preview is very, very slow. Second, it should be more discerning; if you search for "motorized draperies," 13 of the first 15 results all come from the same company's Web site. Third, kill the sense of humor: the first result in a search for "1963 Oscar winners" is "1998 Oscar winners." (The actual 1963 winners don't even appear on the first page of 15 links.) In fact, on many searches that Google and Yahoo aced - "Richard Nixon's dog," "fertility over 40" and "Britney wedding photos," for example - the tech preview's first results page comes up empty-handed.
See also my earlier comments on the new MSN Search.

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